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Buddy Guy - Rhythm and Blues

  by Lisa Torem

published: 13 / 8 / 2013

Buddy Guy - Rhythm and Blues
Label: RCA
Format: CD X2


Satisfying double CD from blues maestro Buddy Guy, which includes guest appearances Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Gary Clark, Jr., Beth Hart and Aerosmith members Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford.

He was raised in Louisiana, but a visceral form of the blues compelled this ambitious guitarist to relocate to Chicago at the age of 21. After years at Chess Records, along with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy developed and honed his truly original live performance style as an electric guitarist. He has influenced the likes of Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones and performs every winter at his popular blues venue Legends. 2010’s 'Living Proof' garnered a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Buddy, wisely, brought back some of the talent responsible – Tom Hambridge (Bo Diddley, Johnny Winter, Chuck Barry) serves as a prolific songwriter, percussionist and all-around producer, and guitarist David Grissom does wonders on rhythm, offsetting Buddy’s primal chops. On that album, Buddy performed one-off solos with B.B. King and Carlos Santana; on his new double CD, 'Rhythm and Blues', he also shares the spotlight with seasoned talent. The album is a delightful mix of bawdy ballads, soul searching narratives and penetrating shuffles, although the opener, ‘Best In Town’, is surprisingly funky and psychedelic and features plenty of wah wah. The lyrics are inviting: “You don’t have to be the fastest gun/The Hootchie Cootchie man or the seventh son…you just got to be the best until the best come around…” Buddy co-wrote this and the following song ‘Justifyin’, bringing many essential feelings to the surface. The horn section comes on strong, as Buddy explores his roots: “When I first heard Muddy Waters/I knew I was Chicago bound.” ‘Justifyin’ has a stab-you-in-the-heart bass line, but the pace mellows for the emotional ‘I Go By Feel,’ inspired by a blind man. Buddy’s take is compelling: “I just open my heart and it flows right through my hand,” he sings gently, after our attention is held captive by a seductive chorus and his clean blues solo. Kid Rock relays his message convincingly on ‘Messin’ with the Kid’ although the song clocks in at less than three minutes. The war between the sexes may be raging, but Buddy does a sensational job expressing his grief in a playful way. ‘What’s Up With That Woman’ finds him growling away the pain because of a mate whose credit card knows no bounds. The Muscle Shoals horns and Buddy Guy veteran Reese Wynan’s B3 add a rainbow of colour. Guest Keith Urban joins Buddy for one of several vocal duets on ‘One Day Away,’ where solid advice is dispensed tastefully: “It’s too late to say sorry when you’re sleeping in the ground…” The more traditional blues ‘Well I Done Got Over It’ features Buddy’s anxious delivery swathed in the powerful keyboards of Kevin McKendree and Jim Hoke’s brilliant horns. The result is a vintage Ray Charles kind of sound, where Buddy’s moans of “didn’t want you to be no angel…” are consolidated and electrified by the ensemble. Beth Hart’s epiphany “When you close your eyes, you might be surprised,” is answered by Buddy: “You might spend a lifetime fighting back my memories.” The anguished couple tread gently as they close the door to their romance, expressing remorse in tandem. The bone-chilling saga about a deadly union, 'The Devil’s Daughter' is heightened by Buddy’s infectious guitar and gripping tell-all style. “She got her hook in me right from the start/She threw a pitchfork clean through my heart.” Beware as this vixen gets progressively more evil even before we hit the refrain: ”She’s a ball of fire and the flames keep getting higher.” Disc one closes with the very short but icing-on-the-cake, ‘Rhythm Inner Groove,’ but ‘Whiskey Ghost’, a sobering journey across the valleys of alcoholism, is the grand finale and the message is fiercely conveyed by Buddy: “Paid my last respects, then I walked away” and “Whiskey Ghost keep on haunting me.” When Buddy also rants on it, “Must be Jack Black/Might be Jim Beam/I smell the taste/I start to scream,” you feel the smooth rim of a shot glass under your finger. Disc two starts out with the engaging ‘Meet Me In Chicago,’ which is loaded with references to Al Capone and age-old stomping grounds amid Buddy’s cantankerous riffs. "She wants back in/And he’s not budging even though she’s got her tail between her legs." In ‘Too Damn Bad,’ the ensemble supports the juicy lyric with fat bass, hefty percussion and blistering guitar. A trilogy of talent, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, make ‘Evil Twin’ a marvel of nature. A clever tune about jealousy – “I hear you say that you’ve never been with him/If it wasn’t you, baby, it must have been your evil twin,” – it rings with spirit. David Grissom’s hardcore acoustic guitar sets the mood mellow so Buddy’s ’89 Fender can elevate you higher. “You got something make a yard bird jump a cat/I could die happy if you just give me some of that…” It’s a tall order, but it just might come to fruition. Buddy’s penchant for irony comes to the fore with ‘Never Gonna Change.’ “I can be stubborn but I like doing things my way,” he sings, without standing on ceremony. The quintessential ballad, 'All That Makes Me Happy is the Blues', is touching, but simply stated and drenched in soul courtesy of the Muscle Shoals horns. ‘My Momma Loved Me’ recalls Buddy’s gentle ‘Skin Deep’: “From a little baby boy, she made me what I am today.” This story of gratitude is sung superbly well and with great feeling. The buoyant shuffle of ‘Blues Don’t Care’ features guitarist Gary Clark, Jr. The virtuosos engage in an imaginative call and response. ‘I Came Up Hard’ is a co-write between Buddy, Tom Hambridge and Richard Fleming (who co-wrote several other tunes on the album). Buddy recants childhood memories: “Learned how to play the blues on a two-string Diddley bo…” and “Picked my share of cotton, drank water from a creek…” It’s a thinking man’s song and, true to style, Buddy’s telling is strong and heartfelt. The final song also conveys a strong message, but veers off in a different direction with a great rockabilly bass line and screeching electric guitar. The simple melody means there’s plenty of space for the ensemble and more of Buddy’s magic. “Rhythm and Blues” is an incredibly satisfying studio album. Only hearing Buddy Guy live, slinking his polka-dotted axe through a rapt audience, could top the experience.

Track Listing:-
1 Best in Town
2 Justifyin'
3 I Go By Feel
4 Messin' with the Kid
5 What's Up with That Woman
6 One Day Away
7 Well I Done Got Over It
8 What You Gonna Do About Me
9 The Devil's Daughter
10 Whiskey Ghost
11 Rhythm Inner Groove
12 Meet Me in Chicago
13 Too Damn Bad
14 Evil Twin
15 I Could Die Happy
16 Never Gonna Change
17 All That Makes Me Happy Is the Blues
18 My Mama Loved Me
19 Blues Don't Care
20 I Came Up Hard
21 Poison Ivy

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